07 July 2010
By SharvarI Patwa
They usually visit at least 12 houses in a high–risk area
CLIMBING poles, wading through dirty water and combing every nook and corner of the city has become routine for this 50–year–old insect collector. Maruti Madbhagat, one if the 72 insect collectors of the BMC, gathers samples of insects and mosquito larvae from high–risk areas which are studied by officials to come up with measures to tackle rain–relates diseases.
These collectors gather insect samples from housing colonies, slum areas, shops, construction sites, public properties, wells, puddles etc which may act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They mainly collect samples of the adult culex mosquito which causes filaria and samples of larvae from mainly water bodies which can help detect breeding sites of malaria.
The officials study the insects in the laboratory and detects the kind of disease it can spread. The civic body then carries out fogging and larvicidal activities in the area accordingly.
The insect collectors usu ally visit at least 12 houses in one locality and collect samples from each house. These men use a suction tube to trap an insect and then put all the insects collected from one house in a single bottle.
“We have to keep collecting samples for at least 10 minutes in each house,” says Madbhagat, who can hold his breath for longer than others, which plays important role in insect collecting. The key is to focus on the insect and then put the suction tube at an angle from where the insect can be trapped and wait for a while. The collector has to hold his breath all this while, says Madbhagat who has been doing this for the past 25 years.
Another insect collector Sanjay Kamble, who has been doing this work for over 15 years, said, “The fact that we have to collect samples from almost anywhere and everywhere is most challenging.” We have also collected samples from ships and boats which come to the Dockyard in Mumbai as they also have insects and mosquito larvaes which are dangerous, says Madbhagat.